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Victorian Criminal Procedure

Victorian Criminal Procedure

State and Federal Law


By Richard Fox and Nadia Deltondo


Cover image: The Supreme Court of Victoria ©
Reproduced with permission of the artist, Simon Fieldhouse

This work continues to offer a comprehensive overview of the law governing the procedures for prosecuting offenders against commonwealth and state law in Victoria in what has become an increasingly detailed and complex component of criminal justice.

Its aim is to be a practical aid for police, legal practitioners, magistrates, judges, corrections officials and others involved in the administration of the justice system in Victoria. It will serve as a useful reference source for academic and public libraries and a helpful guide for law and legal studies students as well as those taking criminology and criminal justice courses.

The major policy changes since the last edition was published in 2015 relate to:

  • Major changes to the Bail Act 1977 according primacy in bail determinations to maximising the safety of the community and of persons affected by crime. The Act has been amended to enlarge the number of categories of crime for which accused persons are to be treated as presumptively ineligible for release on bail or can now satisfy the tests for overcoming that presumption.
  • A statutory presumption that an adult accused, who has been remanded in custody, should appear before the court via an audio-visual link to the place of custody for routine hearings in the Magistrates’ Court.
  • The Juries Act 2000 has been amended to alter jury empanelment procedure in significant ways.
  • Jury trials have been further expedited by simplification and standardisation of jury directions by the enactment of the Jury Directions Act 2015 to enlarge upon and replace the Jury Directions Act 2013. The legislation directs that the reasoning of appellate courts must also be consistent with how a jury would be directed in accordance with the principles enunciated in the updated Act.
  • Changes have been made to the way in which certain vulnerable or impaired witnesses give evidence. A new pre-trial process of ground rules hearings to identify their needs including court appointed intermediaries to assist in communicating with them have been introduced.
  • Trial judges may also adopt an inquisitorial approach to the use of expert witnesses in a criminal trial under the Criminal Procedure Act 2009, or in investigations or special hearings under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997.
  • The Sentencing Act 1991 has received much attention. Penalties have been enhanced in an effort to reduce crime. Those efforts were significantly affected by case law which declared the baseline sentence scheme unworkable and led to the introduction of standard sentences for serious crimes and parole eligibility for serious offenders tightened.
  • The Serious Offenders Act 2018 makes use of civil post-sentence court orders to detain and supervise serious sexual offenders and serious violent offenders despite them having fully served their prison sentences.
  • Revamping key processes in imposing and enforcing monetary penalties has also taken place.


** Click here for Detailed Table of Contents **


1. Introduction

2. Prosecution and Defence

3. Courts Exercising Criminal Jurisdiction

4. Commencement of Process

5. Bail

6. Offences Triable Summarily

7. Committal Proceedings

8. Trial of Indictable Offences

9. Sentencing

10. Appeals in Summary Matters

11. Appeals in Indictable Matters

Subject Index


Reviews of previous edition:

This is the fourteenth edition of this text. It is a comprehensive overview of the law governing procedures for prosecuting offenders in Victoria for state and commonwealth offences. The text covers the gamut in a sequential fashion commencing with the initiation of prosecutions, to the procedures before and during summary and indictable hearings, including committals, to sentencing, re-hearings and appeals. It skilfully considers these procedures as they apply to both state and federal offences prosecuted in Victoria. As with previous editions, it is comprehensive, readable, accessible and well indexed.
         The statute law reflects the position immediately prior to parliament’s rise for the November 2014 election. The changes introduced by the Jury Directions Act 2013 are considered, particularly the role of the trial judge in summing up and giving directions to the jury. The powers of Victorian courts to regulate when courts may be open or closed to the public are considered in the context of the changes introduced by the Open Courts Act 2013. The absence of any requirement for law enforcement agencies to comply with key elements of six of the 10 Information Privacy Principles (see s15 of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014) is perhaps one of the less obvious though equally important recent statutory changes.
         The case law takes account of judgments delivered up to 22 December 2014. Reference is made to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Strangio v Magistrates Court of Victoria & Anor [2013] VSC 496 in which the Supreme Court considered the availability of relief by way of judicial review in committal proceedings. Reference is made to the recent unanimous judgment of the five-member bench of the Court of Appeal in Boulton v The Queen [2014] VSCA 342. Boulton contains sentencing guidelines on the use of community correction orders. Reference is also made to the High Court’s judgment in Barbaro v R (2014) 305 ALR 323 which considered the role of the prosecution in the process of sentencing by a court. However, the text is essentially practical and will be of much assistance to all those involved in the criminal prosecution process.

Cahal Fairfield, InPrint, Law Institute Journal Victoria, Sept 2015

With its focus on practical advice and up-to-date statute and case law references, this is a useful practitioner text: not only for legal practitioners, but police, correctional officers, and others involved in the administration of criminal justice. Perhaps Queensland-based practitioners will not turn to the text as frequently as our Victorian counterparts, given the focus on Victorian criminal procedure, but the clear discussions on the rules of evidence, for instance, are applicable Australia-wide. The text also considers offences under commonwealth law and the way these are dealt with in state courts. The authorities discussed are predominantly decisions of the High Court of Australia and the Victorian Court of Appeal and should therefore provide helpful guidance for all state and territory jurisdictions.

Queensland Law Reporter - 8 May 2015 - [2015] 17 QLR


Publishing 28 February 2019
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760021870
Australian RRP $110.00
International Price $100.00
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